Disputing Peace Piece
As I read the “Final Word” article “Peace, War, and Memory” by Professor Deborah Buffton (ICQ 2006/2), it was quite apparent that she equated all conflicts in a homogeneous manner and that somehow they could have been resolved through peacemaking. In addition there is the impression that if we had all worked for peace then these conflicts would have been resolved. As admirable as this sounds and makes everyone feel good, it might have been helpful to go back and take an objective view of the history of so many of these conflicts to get the proper perspective on all that was done to avoid them.
An ideological Pollyanna would write an article of this nature without acknowledging all those who were willing to put themselves in harm’s way, so that we could have the opportunity to engage in this type of an open dialogue and enjoy the benefits of a wonderful democracy. As an example, I guess we should not remember or have any monuments for the 400,000 Americans who died during World War II in all parts of the world. I wonder if this type of information is even taught in any of our institutions.
Do I think that we should acknowledge and support the honest peacemakers? Yes! Do I think we should respect and honor those who made the effort to withstand those who wanted to harm our country? I say Yes!
Joseph Panetta ’58
Glen Cove, New York
Buffton responds: Mr. Panetta’s letter unwittingly demonstrates my point that our culture creates myths about the necessity and benefits of war that blind us to genuine and more rational alternatives. We need to question not only whether war is necessary to preserve freedom but also the degree to which war diminishes freedom. History shows that most wars take away freedoms by constraining civil rights (as is happening today in the United States) and destroying the livelihood and infrastructure of the society in which it is taking place (in the absence of adequate food, shelter, water, health care, and security, the Iraqis are experiencing very little freedom as a result of the war—although they all seem to have an equal opportunity to be killed). Moreover, the numerous times when nonviolence has prevented potential wars (e.g., the “Velvet Revolutions” of the early 1990s) are rarely acknowledged in our society.
World War II, which is remembered as “the good war,” led to at least 30 million deaths, the use of weapons of mass destruction, and horrific brutality on both sides. It also ushered in the Cold War, leading to an additional 25 million deaths in proxy wars and a world gripped by anxiety over the possibility of a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers. How can one realistically call this a “good war”?
A better approach to the crises that led to WWII would have been to prevent the conditions that allowed Hitler to get a hearing in the first place (starting with a wiser peace agreement after World War I). Then we would not need memorials to honor the 400,000 dead Americans who, in the process of “fighting for our freedom” themselves were forced to engage in the very brutality we claimed to oppose.
To condemn war and argue for an alternative way is hardly being “an ideological Pollyanna.” It is simply being realistic if we are to survive as a species.
Deborah Buffton ’79, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin–LaCrosse
Love Those Phoners!
Usually I cringe when I receive a telemarketing phone call, but this time I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with the professionalism and poise of the young gentleman who telephoned me, Andrew.
He appeared to be genuinely interested in my daughter’s experiences at Ithaca, and we discussed several programs: hers, his, and the overseas opportunities.
Andrew appeared not in a rush to get to his next phone call, but took the time to give me good information about Ithaca programs and was a very impressive spokesperson for Ithaca. After our conversation I was happy to donate to the Ithaca fundraising effort—and wish I could have given more.
Ithaca College has proven to be a great choice for my daughter, who is now in her second year of the physical therapy program. She is working hard but has made many valuable friendships, and I am happy to see her maturing into a lovely young woman.
I am grateful to Ithaca College and its faculty and staff for all they have done for Kelly. I wish you much success in your campaign.
Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
Parent of Kelly Follis ’09
I don’t remember the name of the phonathon student from Ithaca with whom I spoke, but she is a transfer student (from SUNY at Potsdam, I believe). She was delightful—well spoken, humorous, knowledgeable, and a good listener. She is definitely not only a great solicitor, but also a fine example of the type of graduate IC will be proud to have.
My husband [Tom Rochester III ’69] and I have just retired from teaching, and I credit IC with giving me a great education at both the undergraduate and master’s levels. While I taught physical education for only about 15 years, my family, high school, and Ithaca College education gave me the ability to teach K–graduate school classes not only in physical and health education, but also in language arts and social studies. I even taught some math and kinesiology classes for a couple of years. My 25 years as a middle school teacher and the six years as a college instructor (four at IC and two at the University of Northern Colorado) were my favorite teaching experiences.
Best wishes on the campaign and to all at Ithaca College.
Diane Rochester B.S. ’70, M.S. ’76
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